The only non-human predator of gray whales is the killer whale, also known as the orca (Orcinus orca). Nearly 18% of all gray whales show evidence of orca attack, with juveniles being the most vulnerable. Orca’s hunt in pods and can separate a calf from its mother. Once separated from its mother, the orca pod drowns the calf by holding on to its flippers and tail flukes with their teeth. Adult gray whales often place themselves between their calf and potential predators. When under attack, adults may also swim toward shallow water or kelp beds, where orcas typically do not enter.
- Baldridge, A. 1972. Killer Whales Attack and Eat a Gray Whale. Journal of Mammalogy, 53/4: 898-900. Accessed March 22, 2009 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1379230.
- Darling, J., A. Taber. 2001. Gray Whale. Pp. 256-261 in D MacDonald, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: Andromeda Oxford Limited.